COLUMBIA, SC — A former FBI analyst on Tuesday announced his candidacy for Columbia mayor, saying fighting crime would be his priority.
Larry Sypolt, 35, made his announcement at the Five Points fountain with the parents of a young man who was attacked in the district in 2011 and two outspoken Five Points business owners by his side.
Sypolt, who was born and raised in Columbia, said he is tired of violence in the city and thinks he could use his law enforcement experience to solve the problem.
“I want to take care of my backyard,” he said.
Vicki and Jonathan Strange, whose son was brutally beaten by a group of teens wandering Five Points in June 2011, said they increasingly have become frustrated with the city’s response to crime. They believe Sypolt has some answers.
“He wants to make the same changes we do,” Vicki Strange said.
Debbie McDaniel, who owns three consignment stores, and Joe Wilson, who owns three nightclubs, also joined Sypolt for his announcement. They also have voiced concern over violence in Five Points.
Sypolt said his priority would be merging the Columbia Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department to streamline resources and consolidate expenses.
“We are a big, urban city, but we’ve got this small town mentality,” he said.
He also said he wants to protect and promote the city’s natural resources and to conduct an independent audit of the city’s finances. And he said he wants to ensure city contracts are awarded through true competitive bidding, not political interests.
Sypolt worked at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for 10 years, in the narcotics unit. He then spent five years at the FBI as a crime analyst. He recently left the FBI to open a background screening and drug testing company, he said.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.